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Tuesday, January 24, 2006

The United STATES

By Howard Stephenson
Utah State Senator, District 11

SB 156 is a soft repeal of the 17th amendment, which ended the election of U.S. Senators by local legislative action.

The nation's founders understood that an essential element in the balance of powers was that the Senate represented the states while the House represented the citizens of each the various congressional districts.

Part of the reason the Constitution gives each state two U.S. Senators, regardless of the population of the state, was the Founder’s recognition that the states were equal; in the beginning the senators represented state interests and were naturally elected by the legislatures of their respective states. With the advent of the direct election of senators, the sensitivity of the U.S. Senate to the problems faced by states was severely diminished.

SB 156 provides for the legislature to give direction to the U.S. Senators from Utah and to require periodic reporting from them on their progress in carrying out the directives received. It would also allow political parties to nominate U.S. Senate candidates by sending two names to the legislature and asking their political party's legislative caucus to pare the candidates down to one for the November ballot.

What would be different if the U.S. Senate were more attuned to the desires of their respective elected state legislatures?
  • At least one chamber of Congress would be much more likely to advocate for the sovereignty of the states and states' rights;
  • Medicare and Medicaid funding would not have so many costly requirements; Transportation funding wouldn't have so many strings attached;
  • The federal gas tax would be small or non-existent;
  • No Child Left Behind would have failed or would look very different;
  • Federal land policy would respect the needs of the states; and
  • The National Environmental Protection Act would look entirely different today if the 50 states had more influence over the United States Senate.
  • Etcetera.

11 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1. I understand your logic today, but what was the logic behind the 17th Ammendment? Why was this ever changed? Have we corrected those issues?

2. Once you give man a freedom, it is twice as hard to take it away.

1/25/2006 8:35 AM  
Anonymous JMB said...

I got this in the email this morning, a press release from the democrats:

Statement from Utah Democratic Party Chair Wayne Holland Jr.:

“Utah’s Democrats, make no mistake, are happy that Republicans in the State Senate recognize that Utahns are not being well served by our current US Senators,” Holland stated. “It is sad that they have chosen to express their discontent with an end-run around the Constitution and the voters of Utah.

“State legislators already give direction through resolutions and the Senators have a habit of reporting to the elected legislators each new session. Legislators can already ask questions of their US Senators in a way that most voters don’t have, and can’t have, access to.

“The Utah GOP could “easily” adopt their scheme through party rules at their state convention. There is no need for this legislative scheme to abandon the 17th Amendment, unless this grab for more power would surely be voted down by Republican Party delegates.

“Apparently, our Utah Republican Legislators are not satisfied with the new “Republican Culture of Corruption”, they want to revisit the old forms corruption that led to the 17th Amendment in the first place. Isn’t it ironic, though, that the Democratic Party has to rush to the defense of the Republican voters?”

1/25/2006 9:49 AM  
Blogger The Senate Site said...

Typical propaganda. Thanks for visiting.

1/25/2006 10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you don't like the 17th Amendment, appeal it through proper channels. This backhanded attempt around the constitution is unwise and likely unconstitutional.

1/25/2006 11:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Typical propaganda. Thanks for visiting."

This is the official retort? Really?

1/25/2006 12:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about going back to the intent of Madison and removing equal suffrage in the Senate to the individual states altogether? Madison's original plan was only defeated because states with miniscule popluations like Delaware ganged up on the more populous states like Virginia. The "Great Compromise" nearly destroyed the United States and it was only with a lot of work did the populous states finally agree to it. I'm sure you would be hard pressed to find the factions opposed to each other ever calling it a divinely inspired moment. The undemocratic, unrepresentation Senate, as well, lead directly to the greatest tragedy this country every experienced: the Civil War. (Consult Lincoln if you disagree with that one.)

Here's to true representation for the people: a Senate (and therefore a nation) that cannot be tyranized by componant states with very little population.

1/25/2006 1:28 PM  
Anonymous Pauljohnson said...

The "typical propaganda" reply is insulting in itself as was Mr. Valentine's statement of "We know more than voters do...." I'm sure it was not meant that way, but it does appear condescending.

I am very leery of this bill. With all the talk about "choice" that goes on, this serves as an example of government setting up less choice per se. Removing the direct vote of the people in choosing candidates gives the voters less choice. I realize that some things of this sort are done for some state offices, but this is a federal office with a Constitutional procedure.

I am concerned with one body of government becoming more powerful than others. It seems as though power is increasingly becoming concentrated in the legislature as opposed to other branches. It is just an observation without support, more of a feeling than anything I suppose, though there are indeed some instances.

Also, it does seem that the state legislature is starting to intrude into issues normally reserved for individual cities to decide (e.g. terms of office for mayors, changing building zoning rules). Such should be left up to individual cities to decide.

Voters should be the ones to vote on individual condidates, not limiting that to being chosen by a select few.

And I say that as a conservative, not a democrat.

1/25/2006 4:37 PM  
Anonymous db said...

Here's what is refreshing in Senator Stephenson's Bill: It brings back the "vertical" separation of powers intended by our Founders. We are all familiar with the checks and balances at the national level of government between the judicial, legislative, and executive branches of government. The separatation of powers among these three branches at the national level can be termed "horizontal". While most of us would agree that the Founder's showed historical foresight in implementing the horizontal separation of powers, few seem to be excited about the originally intended "vertical" separation of powers at the national level. Before the 17th Amendment established direct election of Senators by the people, the various state legislatures were able to appoint their respective Senators, thus giving voice to the states at a national level. The pre-17th Amendment Constitution let a competititive and rigid federalism foster by giving lower political sub-units a voice at the upper levels of government, hence the term "vertical" separation of powers.

1/26/2006 8:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Democratic state senator and Utah AFL-CIO president Ed Mayne is a co-sponsor of this bill.

The lamestream media seems to be ignoring the bipartisan support for this idea.

1/26/2006 12:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Which organization, let’s say the Republican Party, would give up on its powers to another organization, let’s say the Legislative Republican Caucus?
Even if “the people” would decide on general election which candidate would represent Utah best, still the proposed bill is in infringement on people’s right to choose and vote.
People would place on themselves a limitation on which candidate is the best by giving the legislature the power to choose. The Utah Legislative body should be separate in intentions and power by our representatives in Congress. Utah’s representatives and senators are delegates of our state, but nevertheless, their vote affects “all people”, not just Utah’s residents.

1/27/2006 10:36 PM  
Blogger theorris said...

Are you hinting, anonymous, that the Republican party is fraught with infighting? By that I mean that the Party is run by a clique while the Caucus in the legislature is another clique? It would seem there have been some battles in recent history about who controls the Party. The stories seem to be kept pretty quiet, however.

2/02/2006 2:36 PM  

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